The Stems were one of the finest 1960s-inspired garage bands Australia produced in the ’80s, during a time when paisley-clad, mop-topped psychedelic revival bands were prevalent down under. Hailing from Perth in Western Australia, they captured the sound and the spirit of 1965 perfectly.
The band took its cue from classic 1960s pop/R&B bands like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Byrds, The Standells and The Easybeats, but rather than perform as a covers band they played a solid repertoire of original material (penned by Mariani and Lane). The Stems made their live debut in March 1984, supporting The Saints and The Triffids.
Shuttleworth left the band in June and was replaced by Julian Matthews, and the band began promoting their own themed gigs with titles like ‘Monster Mash’, ‘Reverberation’ and ‘Psychedelic Showdown’.
In May 1985, their debut single was issued by Sydney independent label, Citadel. The single – Make You Mine – was followed in September by Tears Me In Two.
Both singles were classic slices of exuberant garage-fuzz pop that invited comparisons with everyone from The Monkees to The Yardbirds. Both releases hit the top of the independent charts, selling 5,000 copies each (which was a lot for an independent release in Australia, trust me!).
Ex-Radio Birdman frontman Rob Younger produced their next release – a four track, 12-inch EP entitled Love Will Grow (Rosebuds Volume One) which also hit #1 on the Aussie independent chart. Shortly after the EP was released, Gary Chambers left the band and was replaced by David Huck Shaw.
The Stems spent most of 1986 touring nationwide including support slots to the Hoodoo Gurus and overseas visitors, The Flamin’ Groovies. At the end of the year, the band signed a new deal with Mushroom Records’ White subsidiary label.
Their debut album, At First Sight . . . Violets Are Blue (June 1987), produced three more independent #1 singles – At First Sight (Feb 1987), For Always (May 1987) and Sad Girl (Sept 1987). At First Sight was also included on the soundtrack of the Australian-made feature film, Young Einstein (1988).
Despite positive sales and encouraging reviews for the album, The Stems called it a day in August 1987. Mariani then joined Sydney musician Daryl Mather (ex- Lime Spiders) to form The Some Loves – a brilliant power pop band who released the classic single Know You Now in September 1988.
Keyboards, guitar, vocals
David Huck Shaw